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SPaMCAST 542 features our interview with Kevin Rush. Mr. Rush has developed an innovative approach to facilitate sprint/iteration planning.  Kittens, exploding kittens, and fat cats are used to help teams probe whether the team understands the story and if the story is broken down well enough for the team to reduce the risk of failure.  All change agents talk about making changes at the team level but many fail to change how they work, Kevin suggests that experimenting with different approaches is eating our dog food. Way too many pet metaphors, but a great discussion.

Kevin’s Bio

Kevin is a certified Scrum Master and Agility Enablement leader at Hyland Software. Before coming to Hyland he worked as an innovation consultant and coach with for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. A graduate from DeVry University he spent time as Technology Coordinator for several local school districts before transitioning to ministry then back to tech! When he’s not working with teams and organizations he spends his time with his beautiful wife, Sondra, and their three beautiful daughters. (more…)

Sometimes you just have to . . .

I was originally asked to help provide additional ideas to convince a Scrum Master that had recently joined a team due to a company rotation policy not to give up Scrum (full scenario). The change in team composition led to problems.  On the surface, the decision by the wayward Scrum Master to abandon Scrum in favor of Kanban is an emotional reaction and does not reflect many of the leadership problems the Scrum Master introduced. Assuming that the leadership problems have been sorted, it is time to contemplate how the team will work as they move forward.  The question was posed as use Scrum or use Kanban; however, there is a third (and possibly better) answer. Do both — Scrumban. (more…)

Sometimes you just have to . . .

You can never put a genie back into a bottle.  In I Messed Up A Scrum Team Should I Do Kanban? We described a scenario where a well-performing Scrum team had their Scrum Master replaced and troubles ensued. The question that was posed was whether—since scrum was no longer working—perhaps kanban should be adopted. Given the tumult at the team level, putting the genie back in the bottle and pretending nothing has happened is not a good strategy.  Assuming the leadership issues have been addressed the question returns to whether to recommit to Scrum, shift to Kanban or combine the two. (more…)

How did we get to this point!

Story points were originally developed as a metaphor to give a rough answer to the question of how much functionality could be delivered in a specific period of time.  The problem is that all good metaphors are eventually abused or, worse, people forget that the metaphor is a simplification and approximation of real life. Metaphors become reality.   Three basic behaviors of leaders and stakeholders in software development (broad definition) have lead the metaphor of story points to evolve into story points as measures — something they FAIL miserably at. (more…)

Story Points Are A Fence!

A recent discussion with a Scrum Master colleague reminded me that conversations are filled with metaphors.  Metaphors are used to simplify and represent abstract concepts so they can highlight and or offer a comparison.  According to James Geary in his TED talk from July 15, 2010, we use, on average, six metaphors a minute in conversation.  We use metaphors because they are useful. Story points are a metaphor. Story points represent a piece of work. In software, a story point is an abstraction used to talk about a piece of functional code that is not perfectly understood.  Some pieces of code are harder, bigger, take longer to complete, messier, and might not be as well understood…. the list can go on. That is why story points come in different sizes. Historically two scales have been used. Both scales are based on the Fibonacci sequence. Every person and every team has a different perspective of what story point means because it is a metaphor. However, the understanding generated by the abstraction is enough to allow team members to talk about the functionality or go get a rough approximation of what can be done by the team in a sprint or iteration.  Inside the team, the metaphor allows a conversation. Unfortunately, all useful metaphors are used and extended until their marginal utility to facilitate a conversation is reduced to zero (otherwise known as the rule – all good metaphors will be used until they are kicked to death). Story points are no different. (more…)

Spider web!

Step into my web said the spider to the fly!

User stories are a framework to describe who needs a piece of functionality, the goal of the piece of functionality and the benefit that the “who” part of the equation expects.  The user story does not define how that goal will be attained or every step. Every user story is a combination of a card, conversation, and confirmation (Ron Jefferies’ 3 Cs). It is a lightweight path to getting a piece of work done.  That piece of work can be a new user interface or a problem processing batch transactions. If you are going to adopt user stories for legacy or maintenance work begin with these four steps! (more…)

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SPaMCAST 513 features a second essay on reciprocity.  One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is that some people on a team are passengers and others play different, more involved, roles. Being a passenger long-term on a team or in an organization is a form of rent-seeking and is not valued highly by others.

We also have columns from Susan Parente (I Am Not a Scrumdamentalist) and Jeremy Berriault (QA Corner).  Susan provides a spirited discussion of self-directed teams in agile.  It is a myth that agile teams just get to do what they want. One of the places to find Susan is at S3 Technologies, LLC. Rounding out the cast is this month’s installment of the QA Corner.   Jeremy discusses one of thorniest facts of life for a tester — hard deadlines.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we tackle Chapter 8, titled The Hero In The Age of Checklists.  Heroes are a big deal; pick up any newspaper and you will see how much the cult of hero is celebrated.  Checklists and methods are viewed by many as diminishing the role of the hero which sows the seeds of resistance to change.  What role does the hero play in a disciplined process? If the hero is core to how we view ourselves and our society, do tools like checklists run the risk of being met with hostility?  Chapter 8 dives directly into the deep end to address these topics.

We have two or three more weeks left in this re-read, which means it’s time for the poll.  Vote and be heard! Write in candidates are welcome.

Remember to buy a copy of The Checklist Manifesto and READ along!

Current Installment:

Week 9 – The Hero In The Age of Checklists



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